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this is the review i've been waiting for!
It was the reference to 'seasoned prostitutes' that did it for you, wasnt it ?
Looking forward to further comments on the sound of the two amps/comparison.
There, I added some more, I won't be done until Monday (busy weekend) but you guys can mull on that for a while
Nice impressions! I'm curious about the part about the Arrow being brighter but less detailed in the treble? I find the Arrow is a bit on the warm side but the Leckerton is warmer? Keep running the Arrow and let us know if it still sounds grainy by Monday, I never noticed that myself. Not sure if anything changed in the 3G or no.
I like that the Leckerton impressed you as being more clear and transparent. I'm not thrilled that it might be warmer than the Arrow.
I guess you still have comparisons using the HD650 to do?
Neither of these amps struck me as warm, hell, the Pa2V2 is warmer than both of them! They both sounded to me as relatively neutral. The UHA-4 to me was tight dynamic with a killer crossfeed (did NOT see that coming). The Arrow had a little more of a V sound signature to it, the treble was brighter and the bass was a little more prominent.
Yes I will do the HD650 comparisons monday, there won't be much to it, just comparing how well they run the HD650's I'll be listening to the arrow the rest of tonight.
From your testing so far, sounds like your not enjoying the Arrow as much as the UHA-4. As for the UHA-4 like you said its a very neutral sounding amp, personally it was not for me, but even a bigger disappointment is my next purchase was probably going to be the Arrow. But just based on what you have reviewed sounds like it would not be for me either. I was hoping that the Base/treble settings would make it sound amazing, or at least something on the lines of the Fii0 E5 but just a whole lot better in sound, ( plenty of base) lots of color and wide sound stage. just without the distortion at high volume.
Guys, I dont have a dog in this fight, but what I am about to say comes from my own experience with the burn-in period and reading countless threads on this forum and others. Read HeadphoneAddicts impressions of the Nuforce Icon HPA for an example of what I am on about - that is just one but there are literally hundreds of others out there.
I think its a combination of psychological factors and physical changes that I believe *do* happen during burn-in : whether the 180 degree changes in some folks perceptions of a particular amp are reality or not is a question I cant answer. I only know that my D4 'Mamba' has settled down with the Topkit and I can rely on it to sound the same every time I hook it up, while my P4 Warbler is still opening up, even at 120+ hours. Sure, we are talking about little circuit boards with a few opamps and a couple of capacitors - nothing to it, right ? Well, I maintain that there IS something to it, but it goes beyond that when we are talking about trying to review kit and I'm struggling with a lot of the stuff Blasto has to deal with.
The big psychological factor, for me, is mood. If I'm tired or ticked off, as I have been latey, forget it - most of my music is going to sound ordinary and its a waste of time trying to give any impressions. Expectation is another hurdle, and I find that my best listening experiences happen when I 'switch off' the critical process and just let the music wash over me. Everyone is different, and Blasto is obviously trying very hard to convey the differences he hears between these amps - I salute him for that, but I would prefer to hear from him after he has spent a few months with both amps.
(ps I also find it easy to become jaded about the whole thing during the drawn out burn in process, despite trying to spend as much of that time actually listening to my kit instead of sticking it in a draw. Blasto might be happier just turning the amps off, putting them in that drawer and not listening to anything for at least 24 hours.)
That is why I will be finishing this up Monday.
Keep in mind I was using ER-6' s which are neutral ( Etymotic Research, Inc. - ER-6 Technical Specifications they are sort of a poor man's ER4s) I never messed with the bass settings, even with the bass set to "0" the arrow had more bass than the UHA-4 I don't hate the Arrow, both amps have their strengths and weaknesses. The Arrow has soundstage and bass, the UHA-4 has dynamics and clarity, it depends what you like, I prefer clarity and dynamics. Which is why I like the Sony MDR-CD2000 headphones so much, clear and dynamic. Combined with the UHA-4, the CD2k might be something out of this world, we'll see. I bought the Arrow to be used exclusively with a pair of ER4s + CUSTOM, and I only bought the UHA-4 as a slimmer, more pocket friendly Pa2V2 replacement.
A quick note, I received my new Arrow 3G about a week ago, took it out of the box, charged it up, plugged it in, started listening. My very first impression was pretty disappointing, the tone was bright, semi-grainy, lacked bass. Not bad, but I was not blown away. Over the next two hours of listening the sound changed dramatically. The bass came waaayyy up, the soundstage deepened, trebles became much more lifelike, detail improved. This was just during the first two hours.
No, this was not subtle nor was it a case of my ears adjusting.
I am a slight believer in burn in, but not fanatically so. I don't usually hear much change after the first 20 hours or so in most amps (and I've owned a LOT!). I've had the Arrow burning in for maybe 100 hours or so now and notice the changes are more or less over, there has been some continuation of what I heard during the first two hours, but nothing like that initial change.
This post just to say that trying to judge the Arrow (or any amp) right out of the box can lead to some very misleading results. In my case, just a two hour burn made a MAJOR difference!
(For the record, I have owned a Lisa III, StepDance, most of the RSA products, iQube, Pico and others. While nothing has quite matched the Lisa in term of pure sound, the Arrow gets me very, very close. I found it much, much better than the StepDance. The Arrow is a fantastic amp at any size and price, but factor in the size and price and it may be unbeatable.)
Will everyone relax I'm not beating on the arrow (I'm still gonna use it with the ER4s), but my ears, my X1061, and my ER-6 don't lie, I used the Arrow for 4 1/2 hours last night, but I'm burning in the Arrow with pink noise on loop at moderate volume 24hours, it'll be ready for action by Monday. The UHA-4 is being burned in as I use it.
^Blasto, appreciating your inputs and review very much.
As for the nervousness of the Arrow and whatever crowd, I think as always and with anything, everybody gets a little nervous or touchy when their favorite toy or more expensive toy gets equaled or bettered and even undercuts the price they paid for it by a somewhat significant margin, so in general, a natural and first instinct would be to kind of jump or be a little overprotective of said product. Heck, even is the case for most scientific or logical based trial to challenge and question all aspects before accepting a condition as fact or relative fact. However, I think everybody here including slightly protective xxx amp owners definitely appreciate your direct comparison and time being put towards this!
And to note, I use the term equaled or better very subjectively and loosely, as we all know, different ears like different sounds and signatures, so a huge YMMV on those terms.
Happy listening, looking forward to more!
The Arrow fan-base here seems to have had a bit of chip on their collective shoulders since the amp was released - it surfaced when Skylab indicated that he wouldnt be reviewing the Arrow (or any other portable). They like their amp - fine with me, but when I get comments like 'the Arrow is a level above the other portable amps', it starts to grate.
The problem is that there are no perfect answers for portable amps: Going by the headfonia "usual suspects" 12 portable amp review and others:
Arrow--awesome size and power, sound doesn't seem to be up to some of the other amps; lacks digitial vol. control
TTVJ Slim--good size and power, warm, tube-like sound. Bass seems a little loose and treble has a lower-treble bump
Alo Rx. MkII--good size and power, great bass and treble, mids not so great, $450 is about $100 or more over everyone else
Leckerton UHA-4, wide, but good size. Power is much less than the Arrow and TTVJ Slim (from comments I've received by pm of owners), don't trust the fanboy so it's good to hear Blasto's review
Just Audio Uha120--seems to have maybe some great sound, but is just plain too big for a daily commute. Go ahead and hold something that size plus your dap and whatever protection it has. Now imagine looking like an idiot. Use a mirror if it helps.
E11--great size. Nobody knows when it'll be out or what it'll really sound like. Has the same chip as the arrow, who knows how it'll stack up.
Just a clarification, using noise doesn't do anything for amps. It has no driver that moves. Just keep it on and running. I did hear the RSA-Hornet today and preferred it to my Arrow sonically. It loses on all features, price and packaging though IMO.